Cotton Rag (VUW SGEES newsletter) 4 May 2017 Peter Barrett Global concern at global warming was rising from the 1980’s through to 2008, when it slumped along with the global economy, the 2009 COP talks in Copenhagen, and climate science credibility following the UEA e-mail hacking scandal. With dogged perseverance, scientists and diplomats world-wide have recovered, culminating in the 2015 Paris Accord, a global plan for carbon emissions reductions to zero before 2100. It was signed by 197 countries, including NZ, but each country gets to determine its own pathway, and NZ had no credible plan for reaching reducing its own carbon emissions to zero. It has not been widely reported but in the last 6 weeks the scene in NZ has changed. It began on March 20 with the OECD releasing its review of our environmental performance over the last decade, arguing strongly for the transition towards a low-carbon, greener economy. Then, the following day a cross-party group of 35 members of our Parliament (yes, we have one, with representatives from all seven parties, called GLOBE-NZ) released a report “Net Zero in NZ” commissioned from VIVID Economics. This is the first report ever to provide credible pathways for New Zealand to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero before 2100. This was followed on April 10 with Generation Zero, 5 years old this year, launching their Carbon Zero Act campaign to spur the next Parliament to commit to a legally binding framework for reaching zero carbon emissions by 2050! Then on April 13 another first, a cross-party debate in Parliament on climate change, introduced by Kennedy Graham for GLOBE-NZ, and concluded by Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett, who express her pleasure at the constructive nature of the debate. In fact, it was so positive she thought there might be the odd person out there tuning in and wondering what was going on! It’s well worth listening to – here’s the speaking list so you know who’s who: Times and Speakers in order of appearance:
1:40 Kennedy Graham Green Party 6:53 Scott Simpson Nat’l Coromandel 11:56 Tracy Martin NZ First Party 16:59 Te Ururoa Flavell Maori Party 21:55 Peter Dunne United Future Ohariu 27:05 Megan Woods Labour Wigram 37:10 Stuart Smith National Kaikoura 42:10 David Parker Labour Party
52:45 James Shaw Green Party 1:01:15 Dennis O’Rourke NZ First List 1:11:15 David Seymour ACT Remuera 1:21:25 William Sio Labour Mangere 1:26:30 Julie Anne Genter Green Party 1:31:44 Tracy Martin NZ First Party 1:36:10 Paula Bennett National Up Harbour 1:43:47 END
The reports and debate are of course just a start, but for NZ climate scientists and campaigners alike, including those that have worked on Thin Ice, it gives us all a bit of a lift. We can now say to people after a community meeting or class on climate change that the message is at last getting through. Climate change is real and NZ does have credible options for reducing carbon emissions well before 2100. Our Parliament is now taking up the challenge and we should encourage them in this election year.

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